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Crimson Peak #FilmReview ‘Jane Austin with a dash of Mary Shelley’
November 26, 2017, 7:00 pm
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Crimson Peak (MA15+)
2015, Thriller, 1hr 58mins.
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain and Tom Hiddleston
Crimson Peak is currently available for mobile cinema events

Synopsis
In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds… and remembers. – via Letterboxd

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Review
Guillermo Del Toro the director behind the brilliant ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ and the OK blockbuster ‘Pacific Rim’ returns with Crimson Peak’ that thankfully falls more on the brilliant side of his catalogue rather than the blockbuster. He takes your classic haunted house story, adds some Jane Austin, some over the top art direction and a brilliant cast to give us a creepy ghost story that opts for ‘story’ instead of scares. That said many of the ghostly moments were extremely creepy and managed to give me goosebumps on more than one occasion. This is aided by an unnerving soundscape that puts you on edge, and is enough to make a turning door knob truly terrifying. This isn’t to say that ‘Crimson Peak’ isn’t without it’s gore, as anyone who has seen ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ knows that Del Toro uses violence sparingly. But when an act of violence does occur it is always shocking, and horrific and ‘Crimson Peak’ is no exception.

Del Toro with his growing back catalogue of ghostly creature features riffs on his previous creations, ghosts that bleed zero gravity blood, much like ‘The Devil’s Backbone’. The moths that seem to be inexplicably growing in numbers linking to his earlier work on ‘Mimic’. And the facial violence of ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ is definitely in your face here as well. The one thing that took me out of the movie was the heavy handed art department, that turned the house into a living, breathing and bleeding character in the film, it was beautiful and every frame of the film is worthy of wall space in a gallery. But it felt like a film set, rather than a habitable space.

Horror fans that are after loads of jump scares and gross outs will most probably be disappointed. But if you like Jane Austin with a dash of Mary Shelley with some creepy chills thrown in, ’Crimson Peak’ should be the haunted house for you.

Rating ★★★★ out of ★★★★★

Crimson Peak is currently available for Road Movie Mobile Cinema events. Please contact us for a film copyright quote for your next pop-up outdoor or indoor cinema event in South Australia or Victoria

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The Lighthorsemen #FilmReview ‘The cinematography is epic and best viewed on the big screen”
November 12, 2017, 7:00 pm
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The Lighthorsemen (PG)
War, Drama, Action. 1hr 57mins
Starring: Jon Blake, Sigrid Thornton, Peter Phelps, Garry Sweet.
The Lighthorsemen is currently available for mobile cinema events

Synopsis
Palestine, 1917. The British advance has been stopped by the Turkish line running from Gaza to Beersheba. The latest attack on Gaza has failed. The attacking forces included a regiment of Australian mounted infantry, the Light Horse… Lighthorseman Frank is wounded in a skirmish with Bedouin. He is replaced by a young soldier, Dave, who proves to be a crack shot, but reluctant to fire at the enemy. Dave proves himself during a German biplane attack. Recuperating in hospital, he meets a sympathetic nurse, Anne… The regiment is called upon for a bold flanking attack on Beersheba. But how do you convince the Turks the main attack will come at Gaza? And how do you attack across a desert without water?

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Review
War what is it good for? Providing the film industry with countless cinematic stories, and in this case the South Australian film industry. This 1987 production followed on the tale of the highly successful ‘Gallipoli’ made in 1981, except this time as the title suggests the soldiers are on horseback, as they mount an attack on Beersheba. This is an epic production and I imagine almost everyone who could ride a horse fast in South Australia was employed for a few months. In fact the climatic charge of the Lighthorsemen included many Lighthorsewomen as well.

The cinematography is epic and beautiful, and is best viewed on the big screen. Which was how I viewed it, when I projected it at the Gumeracha Town Hall, marking 100 years since the charge in 1917. The film itself marking 70 years since the attack when it was released in 1987. Despite the epic beauty of the cinematography the story tends to wander around following several different angles including a romantic angle between wounded soldier Dave Mitchell (Peter Phelps) and nurse Anne (Sigrid Thornton). This story thread tends to hold the most screen time and is actually based on a real life romance where they were married following World War 1.

Where the film takes an interesting angle is with the character Dave Mitchell. As his initial journey into war was one of revenge following the death of his brother. However faced with the reality of killing, he chokes putting everyone at risk. But don’t worry he does get a chance to redeem himself without killing anyone in the process.

The real highlight of the film is the charge. Feeling like a mix of ‘The Man From Snowy River’ and ‘Mad Max’. Not surprisingly the man behind the lens Dean Semler shot Mad Max 2 & 3 and you see his trick of keeping the camera extremely low to the ground during the charge, just like the action in ‘Mad Max’. Making it feel incredibly fast and dangerous, especially as things are exploding all around. This cinematography combined with expert editing makes this sequence breathtaking.

The Lighthorsemen is a well crafted epic war film, that unfortunately meanders around a bit long where it doesn’t need too.

Rating ★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★

The Lighthorsemen is currently available for Road Movie Mobile Cinema events. Please contact us for a film copyright quote for your next pop-up outdoor or indoor cinema event in South Australia or Victoria

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Life #FilmReview ‘We Need To Talk About Calvin’
October 23, 2017, 9:12 pm
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Life (2017)
Science Fiction/Thriller, 104 Minutes.
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds.
Now available for mobile cinema events

Synopsis
‘Life’ is an intense sci-fi thriller about a team of scientists aboard the International Space Station whose mission of discovery turns to one of primal fear when they find a rapidly evolving life-form that caused extinction on Mars, and now threatens the crew and all life on Earth.

Life

Review
Many scriptwriters claim that there are no new stories. But that doesn’t mean you should give up, because there are many points of view you can always use to create a unique angle on a familiar plot. Life promises a sci-fi thriller where an alien life form picks off crew members of a spaceship, drawing more than a close resemblance to the movie Alien. However, I was willing to give it a go despite this glaring similarity. After all there have been countless movies dealing with alien life forms that threaten our existence on earth and I am a complete sucker for them.

The alien creature, nicknamed Calvin, starts out being very interesting and original with its beautiful production design. It is kind of like a squid, jellyfish type thing that doesn’t take the appearance of the standard evil alien creature hell bent on taking over the human race. But as it’s size rapidly grows along with the body count the creature quickly starts to take the predictable appearance of something that’s more at home in one of the Alien films, Right down to the disappearing down the throat trick. I don’t think I’ve seen an alien film yet that doesn’t want to jam something down someone’s throat. I thought this let the film down a little, obviously the productions decision makers thought this thing didn’t look nasty enough so they had to keep mutating it as it grows. Haven’t they ever seen a Lion or Grizzly Bear? cute as hell until they are biting your head off. No, it has to be slimy with tentacles.

The film predictably goes on a by the numbers killing spree with only the zero gravity cinematography to keep you interested. The deaths are gross, drawn out and unoriginal. The only reason for the lingering killing scenes is probably down to the fact that there are only six crew members and you’ve got to milk every death scene for what you can.

All in all it sounds like I hated it, but it was actually quite enjoyable. It’s just a shame they didn’t have the guts to turn a familiar plot into something that felt exciting and original.

I also gave the film an extra star for the ending, at least they had the guts to take that somewhere original. I think I was quietly chuckling to myself for the rest of the night after that.

Rating ★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★

Life is currently available for Road Movie Mobile Cinema events. Please contact us for a film copyright quote for your next pop-up outdoor or indoor cinema event in South Australia or Victoria
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Zootopia #FilmReview ‘a clever, funny and inventive original’
June 29, 2017, 6:00 pm
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Zootopia (2016)
Animated/Adventure/Family, Rated PG, 108 Minutes.
Featuring Voices of: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba.
Now available for mobile cinema events

Synopsis
In a city of anthropomorphic animals, a rookie bunny cop and a cynical con artist fox must work together to uncover a conspiracy.

Zootopia Flash Image

Review
Zootopia takes us to an alternate universe devoid of humans, one where the animals have evolved to a point that all creatures great and small have become ‘civilised’. They started farming, they built cities, built trains, cars and most importantly became vegetarian. Yes that’s right, In Zootopia predator and prey get along in perfect harmony until one day…

Enter into this universe young Judy Hops a bunny with big dreams of becoming a cop in the big city metropolis, much to the horror of her parents. Following her intensive boot camp style training where Judy is constantly reminded that she is never going to make the grade she does the unexpected, or if you look at the poster, the expected, and becomes the first bunny cop in the Zootopia Police Department the ZPD.

Treated by the ZPD as the token bunny, Judy, is assigned to parking duty while the rest of the department attempt to solve a case involving 14 missing persons. Unfulfilled by her ticket inspector duties, Judy manages to quickly work her way into the case with the help of a reluctant fox, Nick Wilde, her only lead on the latest missing person, Emmett Otterton, the otter.

From here we delve into the underbelly of Zootopia as Nick and Judy discover more about the case in 48hrs than the rest of the ZPD could uncover in two weeks. With a great plot that works on many levels, Zootopia, as a mystery crime thriller works really well. It will keep young and old alike guessing what has become of these missing persons, and what are the night howlers? Despite being a kids animation some elements and situations may be a little scary for young kids, there’s even a moment that will have the big kids jumping out of their chairs. To lighten the tone there’s a great collection of characters Judy and Nick bump into throughout there investigation. The highlight being a sloth named Flash, who has one of the funniest moments in the film. The film also has several nods to other great crime stories, like the Godfather and Breaking Bad, the kids won’t get them but they make a fun addition for everyone else.

Despite its many great characteristics, Zootopia’s foundations seem a little wonky tho. Mainly the theme of predators and prey living together as vegetarians doesn’t sit quite right. Especially when the majority of the food you see on screen is either doughnuts, ice blocks, ice cream or a shrivelled single serve microwaveable carrot. On the whole not very healthy choices for the animals utopia. But maybe that’s a comment on our human existence.

The film also tackles racism and the unconscious biases that can often bubble to the surface when a society is put under pressure. This being highlighted as we discover predators are randomly going ‘savage’ and attacking prey, which appears to be highlighting quite a heavy issue of our time. Not something you would initially imagine you are going to find wrapped up in a cute kids animation. Zootopia isn’t just a cute animation tho. It’s a clever, funny and inventive original that not only will entertain young and old alike, it also has a great message – ‘Get along people!’ – and that can’t be a bad thing.

Rating ★★★★ out of ★★★★★

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High-Rise #FilmReview ‘the director runs wild along with the residents’
May 11, 2017, 5:00 pm
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High-Rise (2015)
Drama, Rated MA15+, 119 Minutes.
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller
Now available for mobile cinema events

Synopsis
Life for the residents of a tower block begins to run out of control.

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Review
J. G. Ballard’s Novel High-Rise has been a passion project for producer Jeremy Thomas since its release in 1975. Purchasing the rights to what many claimed was an unfilmable novel Thomas would finally see his dream become reality forty years later.

Director Ben Wheatley (Free Fire, A Field In England and Sightseers) finally commits this disturbing dystopian vision of the past – the 70’s – to the big screen. Was it unfilmable? No. Did it make a whole lot of sense? No. Not that there is a lot to get your head around, the story is a straight up parable that constantly slaps you across the face to make sure you’re following. That’s right, poor people on the floors below, rich people up top and even a man on the top floor all dressed in white called the architect – sigh.

This is not to say the same subject matter can’t be entertaining. Director Bong Joon-Ho masterfully pulled off an almost identical plot with the film Snowpiercer released two years prior. With the director creating an inventive, thrilling, and – most importantly – highly watchable and re-watchable film. High-Rise is hard going, mainly for it’s violence towards its female characters and live-in pets.

In fact I had to tackle this film in two goes. The only reason I came back was the brilliant soundtrack from Clint Mansell who managed to add a stylish 70’s styled score. As well as the breathtaking cinematography from Laurie Rose, a regular collaborator with Wheatley.

If ultra-violence is your thing, you’ve come to the right address, but if you would like something else in your abode, like plot or narrative structure this isn’t the building for you. And speaking of ultra violence the poster draws an uncanny resemblance to the Kubrick classic ‘Clockwork Orange’, a film that was obviously a massive influence on the production.

At 2hrs long it feels like the director runs wild along with the residents and completely forgets the people on the ground floor – the audience.

Rating ★★      out of ★★★★★

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The Secret Life Of Pets #FilmReview ‘one of those great ideas that has to work’
April 28, 2017, 7:50 pm
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The Secret Life of Pets (2016)
Animated/Adventure/Family, Rated G, 91 Minutes.
Featuring Voices of: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart

Synopsis
The quiet life of a terrier named Max is upended when his owner takes in Duke, a stray whom Max instantly dislikes. Now available to hire for mobile cinema screenings.

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Review:
The latest film from ‘Illumination’, the studio that gave us Minions and the Despicable Me movies is ‘The Secret Life Of Pets’. An idea that I am surprised hadn’t been explored before. It’s the idea that our pets lead adventurous lives we couldn’t even comprehend the moment we leave them at home. Unlike comic book movies or the ever-growing number of re-boot’s that use their existing audience to bolster their box office. ‘The Secret Life Of Pets’ is a totally original idea that still manages to have an audience – pet lovers. Anyone who has a pet is going to want to see this film and the box office results indicate there are a lot of pet lovers out there with it becoming the fifth biggest original hit of all time. Money aside the idea at the core of the film had the potential to be the next Toy Story, it’s just one of those great ideas that has to work.

The opening scenes show us the bond between a little terrier named Max with his owner, told from the perspective of Max. Unfortunately for Max his owner picks up a stray named Duke and his world is upended. This sets some fun scenes in motion, with Max taking revenge by trying to get Duke kicked out by generally making a mess and wrecking the house. Something I imagine all pet owners can relate too.

The little quirks of pets aren’t ignored, like cats loving boxes and chasing lights. I especially love Leonard the heavy metal loving poodle. It’s these moments that make the film and connect with the owners of real life pets. However the script aims for something much grander and sets off toward epic adventure, including a gang of sewer dwelling ‘flushed’ pets. It’s here that the film seems to run off the rails, although I did love the tattooed pig with the butcher’s meat cut lines marked out.

I think the films strengths come from it being set in the realms of reality. Not having bunnies smashing a truck through the city. I think the scriptwriters would have benefited more from watching endless funny pet video’s on YouTube as their research, instead of bingeing the Fast and Furious 1-8.

That being said the car chases were extremely well done and great fun, but really out of place. And speaking of out of place a scene with a sausage factory was just bizarre. Also a fight scene near the end of the film featuring a white puff-ball of a dog called Gidget taking on the baddies was unexpected but very cool.

I think on the whole the film suffers from trying to be an epic adventure. If it just dialled back the scale and focused on a smaller, more believable story, filled with great pet quirks and fewer characters you may have had something as great as Toy Story. Instead you end up with a fun and enjoyable film that lacks any emotion or substance.

Rating ★★★½ out of ★★★★★

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The Jungle Book #FilmReview ‘a visually spectacular, tonally psychotic, family film that will have little kids screaming’
April 16, 2017, 12:10 pm
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The Jungle Book (2016)
Adventure/Drama/Family, Rated PG, 106 Minutes.
Starring: Neel Sethi Featuring Voices of: Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley

Synopsis:
After a threat from the tiger, SherKhan, forces him to flee the jungle, a man-cub, named Mowgli, embarks on a journey of self discovery with the aid of the panther, Bagheera, and the free spirited bear, Baloo. Available 17 November 2016

Jungle Book 2016 Review

Review:
It’s easy to see why they decided to make a live action remake of ‘The Jungle Book’. With computer animation as good as it is today it’s a perfect opportunity for Disney to dust off a few classics and give them an update for a few extra bucks. There’s a whole new generation that have probably never seen the animated Disney musical from 1967 and they most definitely haven’t seen the less popular 1942 live action version. Giving director Jon Favreau the perfect opportunity to re-imagine this classic Rudyard Kipling story and create something we haven’t seen before in a Jungle Book film.

I’ve always had issues with accepting talking animals in films, but the animation here is so precise that it lures you in to the point where you almost forget. That is until you realise you are listening to highly recognisable Hollywood actors, and your mind veers off imagining them laying down their dialogue in a sound proof booth pulling crazy faces. They almost pull it off and I think if they went for less recognisable voices it might have been to the benefit of the film. The one exception is Idris Elba voicing the tiger Shere Khan, never before has a talking animal been so believable, the voice casting here could almost have me believe tigers can really talk. Shere Khan is so threatening and scary in this film he left many little kids crying and being taken home by their parents, who were probably a little surprised at how dark this film is given its PG rating. Sure there’s no blood and gore and definitely no sex, but there is death and many gritty action sequences are filmed with a mud splash on the lens approach that would probably be more at home in a war movie – the stampede scene in particular was breathtaking.

Given this new gritty stylistic approach I found it really weird that they decided to retain three of the songs from the animated musical, all of which sat very awkwardly in this new environment. For the most part they didn’t even sing the songs properly, they were more like an obligatory nod to the original. Strangely director Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Elf) wanted to retain much of the music but wanted to avoid it becoming a musical. Coming from someone who’s favourite musical is the ‘Blues Brothers’ and most hated ‘The Sound Of Music’ , I surprised myself with the concept that it actually needed to fully embrace the musical or not at all. Obviously with such loved material Favreau tends to tread the middle road, providing soulless versions of some songs from the 1967 animated version. The exception being a rendition of ‘The Bare Necessities’ by Dr. John that makes it worth sitting through the end credits.

The end product – yes product – is a visually spectacular, tonally psychotic, family film that will have little kids screaming and parents feet tapping along to some old tunes from their childhood.

After screening all three Jungle Book features I would recommend the animated musical from 1967. As I mentioned I don’t like most traditional musicals, but the swing jazz and comedy of this original makes it one of the true Disney greats that never needed updating. But that’s too bad because, director Jon Favreu has announced he will be following up his 2016 version with a sequel, And Andy Serkis will also direct another all star cast in his version expected in 2018.

Rating ★★★½ out of ★★★★★




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